By Adam Knorr
MCC’s closest game was a 34-13 win over Ludington in Week Four of this season. Every other game has been even uglier, including last year’s 56-7 pounding of Fruitport.
But hope springs eternal at other Lakes 8 schools, particularly Fruitport.
After two early non-league losses to Grand Haven (43-14) and Mona Shores (55-14) this year, the Trojans have been impressively piecing their season back together.
They have strung together three straight Lakes 8 wins over Spring Lake (22-13), Fremont (32-8) and Ludington (56-14).
Fruitport is probably the only league team that could possibly challenge Muskegon Catholic, and the Trojans will get their chance Friday night at 7 p.m. on their home field.
For Fruitport, it will be a matter of win now or forget about it for awhile, because the Trojans are leaving the league after this season and won’t be playing MCC for an indefinite period of time.
“(Leaving the conference) is definitely a point of motivation each week. We are not going to be a part of it anymore and we’d like to win it outright,” said Fruitport head coach Greg Vargas. “The game is special. One of my first official acts was to help in the process of scheduling MCC. We have a lot of close community ties.
“The game happened to not be played for 20-some-odd years before and it might be another 20-some-odd years before we play them again.”
Like Fruitport, the Crusaders got off to a shaky start this season. They lost to a very strong Oakridge squad 45-26 in Week One, then had their second game against Muskegon Heights cancelled.
But since then MCC has hit its stride, rolling over conference opponents Orchard View (42-11), Ludington (34-13) and Spring Lake (51-7).
A victory over Fruitport will almost certainly seal up another Lakes 8 title for the Crusaders, even though head coach Steve Czerwon doesn’t seem concerned about league trophies or bragging rights.
“We don’t talk about conference. We just focus on making the playoffs,” said Czerwon, whose team is the two-time defending Division 8 state champion. “They’re just another opponent,” he added in reference to Fruitport.
The Trojans will rely on a strong running attack to keep them in the game with MCC.
Running backs Levi Six and Nick Kramer have thrived behind a sizeable offensive line. Six has totaled 66 carries for 348 yards, while Kramer has 61 carries for 389.
Quarterback Jared Wierengo has 309 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground, and just 430 yards and four touchdowns through the air.
“Number one, they’re big up front, they’re every bit as big as we are,” Czerwon said. “Offensively they hurt you in a few different ways.”
Of course a powerful ground attack has long been MCC’s offensive trademark, and nothing has changed this season.
LaTommy Scott has led MCC on the ground in 2015, piling up 406 yards and five touchdowns on 44 carries. Junior fullback Logan Helton has picked up 60 carries for 364 yards and seven touchdowns, while new quarterback Christian Martinez has rushed for 182 yards and four scores.
“We’re going to have to play really well to match up with them and take care of business on both sides of the ball,” Vargas said. “We feel like our kids have prepared for games like this and we are ready for games like this.”